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8/7/9 My “Success Story”

Today I submitted my second-quarter report (April – June), and agonized over the “success story” they always ask us to include. I can’t figure out how to encapsulate three months of work, growth, struggle, and change into a cute little anecdote. For the first-quarter report, I just put in a note saying I’ve written hundreds of such stories; please feel free to browse my blog archives. My Program Manager wasn’t pleased. So this time I sat there, everything else complete, staring at a blank screen.

And after a minute of shuffling through my mental photo album, I remembered an incident that I’d meant to write up here, but which fell through the cracks. It occurred during my family’s visit to Morocco, in June, when I was too busy living to keep up with blogging.

So here’s the story, copied and pasted directly from my quarterly report:

In June, my American family came to Morocco, and met my host family. During the delicious couscous lunch my host mother had prepared for us, she told us that her stepdaughter, my host sister, had just received news that she'd passed her Baccalaureate exam. She invited us to the celebratory party that afternoon.

I delighted in the knowledge that not only had my sister succeeded in finishing her college preparation against all the odds (she lives in a remote village, she lost her mother as a young child, her teachers take holidays every few weeks, she's a *girl* in Morocco...), but that also, that my family was taking so much pride in the accomplishments of their oldest girl.

I explained to my American parents and sister what they could expect. Cookies, crepes, peanuts, incomprehensible-to-them Tamazight conversation, and gallons of tea, just to name a few. We walked over to the party and entered a room crowded with women. My host sister was not only the guest of honor but the primary hostess, so we barely saw her as she shuttled back and forth between the kitchens and the salon. I sat in a corner, with my Moroccan mom, aunt, and siblings along the wall to my right, and my American mom, dad (the only man in the room!), and sister along the wall to my left. Dad tried unsuccessfully to refuse the tea. (My sister ended up drinking his tea for him.) Mom and my sister took theirs and drank it, then ate cakes, cookies, crepes dripping with oil, and peanuts.

Our hostess/guest-of-honor asked one of her friends, helping her serve at the party, to bring napkins to the timid Americans. As soon as they got the napkins, my family eagerly scrubbed the oil from the crepes off their hands. The friend tried to place a napkin in front of me, but my host mother waved her off, saying, "She's not an American - she doesn't need one. She's a Moroccan girl, now." Since I'd already rubbed the oil into my hands and dusted the crumbs off my fingertips, I could only grin my agreement and lean over to give her a hug.

Gigh tmaghrabit dghi. I'm a Moroccan girl now. :)

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